Thursday, December 29, 2011

Scholarships 2...

My parents instilled a deep love of learning in me at an early age, and I really love school. Writing, however, has always been a challenge for me, so when I found out that I would have to write a term paper this year, I was quite intimidated. Not only did I have to write a term paper, but the paper had to be about my identity and how relationships influenced my identity. What teenager knows enough about their identity to be able to rationally construct an entire essay on it? Not to mention the relationship part.

Thankfully, however, I discovered that I would have this assignment last summer. Seeing that I had a couple months before I would have to put the pen to paper (or my fingers to the keyboard), I started to gather information and improve my writing as much as I could over the summer. I read books on identity, on relationships, and on writing well. When my family went on a road trip I listened to audio books on the effects of relationships on identity. I also started keeping a journal of essays, forcing myself to write at least one short essay every day. “Practice makes perfect,” I would tell myself when my writing seemed pointless.

When school started again I felt ready. Within the first week or two I had my thesis, introduction, hook, and outline. Ideas were flowing, examples were appearing, and my teacher was excited about my thesis. Overall, things were going very well. Then I hit writer’s block. Overnight I got tired of my essay. My anecdotes were no longer funny, my logic didn’t make sense, my references didn’t correlate, and no matter how long I stared at my computer screen I could not force myself to write another sentence.

For at least two weeks I didn’t touch my essay. I wouldn’t suggest that approach to anyone else, but it worked for me. I edited my friends’ essays and talked them through their ideas. I read more books, and started writing posts for my blog. Eventually, however, I started to realize that the end of the term was coming up, and I had better finish writing. For a few days I attempted to reorganize my outline and freshen up my ideas in hopes that my writing juices would start flowing, but they just weren’t coming. I generally work well under pressure, so I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t able to pull things together as the deadline bore down on me. In discouragement I went to my blog page and scrolled through my posts looking for comments. Soon I found myself reading my own writing. My identity and relationships were right there looking at me. Words jumped off the screen, shouting out all the thoughts and ideas that I had been mulling over for so many months.

And that’s how I finished my term paper. The many posts that I thought had been pointless, the essays in my journal, favorite quotes that I’d found in my books, illustrations that I had used to help my friends sort through their thoughts - they all came together to make my paper what it was, a picture of my relationships and how they make my identity. It was the little habits that I created and kept up every day that gave me just what I needed when the writing got hard. Not only have these habits helped me overcome my fear of writing in high school, but they are the tools that will continue to help me through countless writing projects in the future.

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